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Introduction & Highlights

Gastrodia elata is an orchid, a saprophytic perennial herb in the family Orchidaceae. It's used in traditional Chinese medicine and cuisine. And it grows in Yunnan Province.

Gastrodia elata Blume, commonly called Tianma in Chinese, is an important traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that is used in China as an anticonvulsant, analgesic, sedative, anti-asthma, and pro-immunity drug since ancient times.

Although gastrodia appears in the oldest lists of Chinese medicinal herbs, it was not historically known to Western herbalists.

Gastrodia elata is one of the three orchids listed in the earliest known Chinese Materia Medica (Shennon Bencao Jing) from about 100 A.D.

It has been traditionally used as a medicine to calm the liver or clear the meridians by invigorating circulation. It's been used to treat headaches, dizziness, vertigo, tetanus, fatigue, paralysis, joint pain and epilepsy. And its popularity is widening today as its value continues to prove itself.

The Nutrition Review said that Gastrodia root has been shown to have pain relieving and inflammatory-mediating effects.

The Chinese herbalist Tao Hong placed gastrodia in the category of superior herbs, meaning that it could be taken for long periods and could be used to promote longevity and treat illnesses.

Traditionally in China it was called "tian ma," or "heavenly hemp." It is still known by that name in common parlance.

Gastrodia elata, along with other orchids, has been placed on the list of endangered species. To ensure the survival of the species, herbalists tried to cultivate gastrodia. But they failed in their early attempts, until biologists discovered that the plant requires two different species of fungi to survive and reproduce. Once the herbalists learned more about the complexity of the symbiotic relationships orchids require for survival, they began to succeed in growing gastrodia.

Zhaotong has the ideal environment for growing wild gastrodia elata. The high yield and good quality puts Zhaotong at the top rank among all gastrodia elata producing areas in China.

Zhaotong Gastrodia elata, a specialty of Zhaotong City, Yunnan Province, has won the national protected geographical indication.

In Yunnan, you can sample Gastrodia elata at the source.

Where to Buy / Experience

To experience Gastrodia elata, try:

1. Xiaocaoba Tianma International Trade Center (小草坝天麻国际交易中心)

Address: Jinzhu Village, Xiaocaoba Town, Yiliang County, Zhaotong City, Yunnan Province (云南省昭通市彝良县小草坝镇金竹村)

2. Yixintang chain drugstore (一心堂连锁药店)

Address: No. 121 West Renmin Road, Kunming City, Yunnan Province (云南省昆明市人民西路121)

Main Origin

Zhaotong City